Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Americans fighting for what Americans believe in

All the military services met or exceeded their recruiting goals. Here is the breakdown:

* The Army hit 101 percent of its goal of 6,000 accessions with 6,066.
* The Navy hit 100 percent of its goal of 2,909 accessions with 2,909.
* The Marine Corps hit 137 percent of its goal of 1,632 accessions with 2,234.
* The Air Force hit 100 percent of its goal of 2,093 accessions with 2,093.
* The Army National Guard hit 100 percent of its goal of 6,040 accessions with 6,048.
* The Army Reserve hit 121 percent of its goal of 3,543 accessions with 4,304.
* The Navy Reserve hit 100 percent of its goal of 865 accessions with 865.
* The Marine Corps Reserve hit 100 percent of its goal of 553 accessions with 553.
* The Air National Guard hit 121 percent of its goal of 784 accessions with 946.
* The Air Force Reserve hit 100 percent of its goal of 719 accessions with 720.

If the war was as unpopular as the traditional media in this country would have you believe, would a total of 26,136 people sign up to go fight the terrorist (this is just one month)? Seriously people...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

MoH awarded to MA2(SEAL) Michael Monsoor

The parents of Master-At-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael Monsoor, a 25-year-old SEAL machine-gunner killed when he dove on a grenade to save his shipmates, accepted their son’s posthumous Medal of Honor on Tuesday from a tearful President Bush at the White House.
George and Sally Monsoor received their son’s framed medal in an East Room ceremony attended by hundreds of sailors, living Medal of Honor recipients and top White House and Navy officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. Bush also unveiled Monsoor’s formal citation, which was read aloud.
"The Medal of Honor is awarded for an act of such courage that no one could rightly be expected to undertake it. Yet those who knew Michael Monsoor were not surprised when he did." Bush said.
Monsoor was one of about 32s SEALs fighting with U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Iraqi troops to take the insurgent-controlled city of Ramadi, said Dick Couch, author of “The Sheriff of Ramadi,” a forthcoming book about the battle that features Monsoor’s picture on its cover. Rather than make a traditional invasion sweep through the dangerous capital of Anbar province, as U.S. forces had done in the battle of Fallujah, regular and special forces troops advanced piecemeal through neighborhoods in the city, cleared out enemies and then held the territory in an “ink-blot strategy,” Couch said.
Monsoor and his SEAL teammates provided reconnaissance and over-watch for the other troops as they fought in the city, and as such often bore the brunt of intense enemy attacks, Couch said. The day he died, Monsoor was stationed with his machine gun on a rooftop between two SEAL snipers providing cover for an Army unit working in a rail yard. The two men were lying prone, aiming their rifles through holes blasted in the wall, when a grenade sailed onto the rooftop and hit Monsoor in the chest. According to the official Navy biography, there was no way either of the teammates could have escaped, and even after Monsoor dove on the grenade, both SEALs suffered shrapnel wounds.
But they survived, Bush said, because Monsoor made a conscious decision to sacrifice his life for them.
“He had a clear chance to escape, but in his mind, it was not a choice at all,” Bush said.
Monsoor is the first SEAL to receive the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq; another special operator, Lt. Michael Murphy, was posthumously given the award last year after he was killed in Afghanistan making a last radio call to save his four-man squad after an ambush. Monsoor is the fourth service member to receive the Medal of Honor for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the 747th sailor to receive the award and the 3,447th person overall.
Monsoor’s other decorations included the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with combat “V” and the Purple Heart.


Video memorial for MA2 Monsoor:

What a great American.

"We do not approve of the rebel who is driven by his desires and passions to infringements upon law and order; we find all the more worthy of our reverence the memory of those who tragically sacrificed themselves for the greater whole."
- Herman Hesse, The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi)

PO Monsoor gave his life so that his teammates survived; not only his teammtes, but the soldiers on the ground for whom PO Monsoor's team was providing cover fire. All Americans should feel the loss of PO Monsoor as heavily as the President, but his burden is especially heartfelt, I believe, as he was the one who made the hard but necessary call to commit troops to this combat action.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dolphins in the Desert II

Continuing to share stories of submariners assigned as IAs or otherwise in the Global War on Terror, today's story focuses on the former CO of the New Hampshire initial manning crew, now the commanding officer of Camp Bucca:

Camp Bucca, Iraq -- Navy Capt. Bruce A. Derenski unrolls a poster-size photo of Camp Bucca that was taken by an unmanned aerial vehicle and spreads it out on the trailer floor.

He uses his cribbage board to hold down a corner. The game, popular among East Coast submarine officers, is one of the few reminders of his background in his new office.

Derenski, of Preston, has submarine magazine ads from World War II and the seal for the New Hampshire, a Virginia-class submarine under construction at Electric Boat in Groton, on the wall. He drinks out of a coffee mug from a submarine birthday ball.

Other than that, it could be an Army officer working here.

A large Camp Bucca flag is in the corner, body armor rests in front of the desk and a dusty copy of Arabic for beginners is on the table. Clocks tell local time, Zulu time and Eastern Standard Time. A map on the wall shows the routes to Basra.

At Camp Bucca, Derenski wears a 9mm handgun strapped to his thigh and his dog tags around his neck. The only thing that separates his appearance from that of an Army officer is the tan desert-camouflage uniform. The Army's are green.

Soldiers and airmen occasionally call him “Colonel” — the eagle-rank insignia he wears is the same as that worn by an Army or Air Force colonel.

Before he came to Iraq, Derenski was the commanding officer of the New Hampshire. He is now an “individual augmentee” serving since January as commander of Forward Operating Base Camp Bucca, the area of the detainee facility where the service members live.

Navy officers and sailors are aiding the Army and Marines by temporarily leaving their regular roles on ships and with shore commands to serve on the ground in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. About 12,000 are currently doing so.

On a recent day, Derenski dealt with everything from broken equipment to briefing an incoming National Guard unit and planning for serious security problems, like a suicide bomber at the gate.

“There's been a spate of suicide bombings in Baghdad in public places and we need to look at contingency planning in case that activity works its way south,” he says.

Four Army officers enter his office and surround the UAV photo. They figure out where to treat the injured. They determine which roads to close and which areas to cordon off. And they end the meeting knowing what to do if there is an attack.

Derenski is responsible for logistics, support and base defense at Camp Bucca, an Army-run facility that houses 20,000 detainees in southern Iraq.

About 60 percent of the 5,000 service members at Camp Bucca are in the Army or National Guard. The remaining 40 percent are two-thirds Air Force and one-third Navy, plus a few Marines and Coast Guardsmen.

“We're all Type A's here and Navy guys, more than most, are used to being 'the man,' ” Derenski said. “Then you have the built-in culture barrier and language barrier. What I thought was my job was others' and they get mad when I try to do it for them.”

“I still run up on the rocks sometimes,” he added, “but not as often anymore.”


The bottoms of Derenski's boots are worn down, even though they're only a month old.

He goes to his office to check e-mail — on average about 250 to 300 messages a day—because that is the most effective way to communicate when everyone works different shifts. But he prefers to walk the dusty paths around the facility, checking to see if the situation on the ground matches the reports he is getting.

There is only one paved road at Camp Bucca; the rest are covered with small rocks that pass for gravel. The land is flat. There is no grass, no trees, no permanent buildings — just tents and trailers surrounded by fine, clay sand.

Piles of dirt topped with concertina wire enclose the one-mile-by-two-mile area, and a concrete barrier known as the “great wall” separates the detainees' living area from that of the service members. Beige is the predominant color. Flies, in search of moisture, are everywhere, often aiming for the eyes, nose and mouth.

Temperatures are in the 80s and 90s and are considered cool for this part of the world. In the summer months, it often reaches 130 and 140 degrees.

“There are so many dark corners around here with activities. Most of the time they're doing what they're supposed to do, but things break and decay,” Derenski says on his way to drop in, unannounced, on another unit. “People suffer in silence because they can't get the things they need to put it back to the way it belongs.”

He carries a scrap piece of paper and makes a list of all the problems he encounters — malfunctioning air-conditioning, jammed cabinet door, broken light fixture, computer trouble, stuck warehouse doors.

When he goes back to the office at night, he will send out e-mails to get everything fixed. He normally works until 9 or 10 p.m., seven days a week.

“It's long days, but when you get to the end of your day here, you know you did something,” Derenski says. “It's not something abstract, like a plan or a strategy. It's something you can point to and say, 'I did that, and it made things better.' ”

Derenski volunteered to serve in Iraq for personal reasons. His other options for his next assignment mostly involved moving his family, which he was reluctant to do with two sons in high school. His family has stayed in Preston, and the boys are enrolled at Norwich Free Academy.

By volunteering, he also has more say in where his next assignment will be. He has already picked out the perfect place: Groton.

Even if he could not return to the Naval Submarine Base in the fall, he says, going to Iraq still would have been the right decision. He likes dealing with a lot of moving parts and large-scale complexity.

“I couldn't have hand-picked a better job,” he says.

The Day runs this series from their paper. Here is a link to the main page.

April 8 in Submarine History

USS Snook scorecard
1945 - USS SNOOK (SS-279) was lost with 82 men. She was to patrol Luzon Strait, the south coast of China, and the east coast of Hainan, and to perform lifeguard duties if so directed by dispatch. SNOOK returned to Guam for emergency repairs on March 27th and departed on March 28th to rejoin her group. TIGRONE was in contact with her until April 8th. The patrol was SNOOK’s ninth. The actual whereabouts of SNOOK may have been discovered during a deep sea dive in 1995. The possibility exists that a U.S. submarine lies in about 350 meters of water off the coast of Iriomote Island, the far southwest island in the Okinawa chain. During operations with an Okinawan company using a U.S. made "SCORPIO" ROV in 1995, a group of divers encountered a sonar contact with what appeared to be a metal structure about 6 meters in girth and about 35 meters in length (exposed) at roughly an angle of 20-30 degrees. The sonar image of a large unexpected obstruction to the operations prompted the divers to take evasive maneuvers and avoid the area for the safety of the ROV. The divers, thinking they would have another opportunity to work in the area at a later date, left the area and never returned to that site. Their ROV was lost in 1997 off Yonaguni island, the last island belonging to Okinawa off the east coast of Taiwan. They were fairly certain that the object was a submarine, and quite possibly SNOOK (SS-279). No further dives in the area were ever attempted.
She was the forty-ninth U.S. submarine loss of World War II.

1998 - PCU MICHIGAN (SSBN-727) (GOLD) returned to homeport at Naval Submarine Base Bangor, WA, after completing the 500th patrol for the Pacific and Atlantic Trident fleets.

2005 - the crew of USS LOUISVILLE (SSN-724) received the Meritorious Unit Commendation award for their participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) at Pearl Harbor, HI.
The nuclear-powered attack submarine returned home from OIF on May 13, 2003 as one of four Pearl Harbor-based submarines that shot Tomahawk missiles into Iraq during the war.
According to Cmdr. David Kirk, commanding officer of LOUISVILLE, at the time LOUISVILLE was outfitted with one of the oldest fire control and communications systems in the submarine fleet. Kirk said the boat deployed expecting to conduct one type of mission and was tasked to move into OIF area of operating to fire Tomahawks.
Kirk said the the multi-mission capabilities of our modern submarines was demonstrated by LOUISVILLE when she shifted gears from operations vital to national security to going on a high speed run into the OIF and shooting missiles on time.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Disturbing News

Venezuela is approaching Russia for help in building 4 Kilo class diesel submarines (RIA Novosti). The deal, negotiated on the Russian side by Putin, should be seen as an increase in Russian hostility towards the West, and reactionary return to Cold War tactics that Putin is famous for in recent times as his presidency draws to a close.

Hugo Chavez, a hard core socialist, has embarked upon a campaign of nationalizing the industries of Venezuela and has seized control of the media and television stations in his home country, repressing the most basic rights of the people to know what their government is doing (Reuters). He is famous for calling President Bush the Devil at a meeting of the UN, on US soil. Mr. Chavez also has dubious links to Iran.

Mr. Putin seems to be constructing a new, more distributed, Iron Curtain wih his deals with China, Cuba, Venzuela, and direct and indirect support of Ahmadinejd in Iran. Russia is being positioned as a direct opponent of the US, a cornerstone in a containment policy against us through these various maneuvers.KAL's Cartoon

Submarine Man?

A new stage production, Submarine Man, portrays the life of the Irish born emigrant who modernized the submarine.
The life story of an Irish inventor who became the father of the modern submarine is about to be staged.

'Submarine Man' captures the tale of John P Holland, one of Ireland’s lesser-known heroes.

Holland, from Liscannor in Co Clare, was a teacher with the Christian Brothers until he emigrated to the USA in 1872.

He continued to teach for another seven years until he eventually built a small submarine.

The success of the machine, which could travel 800km on the surface of the sea and 40km submerged, led Holland to form a company which secured a contract to build a submarine for the US Navy.

Submarine Man is described as an hilarious, yet at times incredibly moving account of one of Ireland’s greatest unsung heroes.

It portrays the inventor captivated by the allure of the sea and obsessed with his design for a bizarre, submergible craft.

Throughout the production, the scientist is fiercely courted by the fractured Fenian movement, hoping to turn his ingenious submarine on the British, while the US Naval department sees the potential to gain a powerful upper hand in warfare.

Holland, a dreamer and a pacifist, bobs and weaves his way through duplicity and threats on his life in 1890s New York, but ultimately this humble Irish school-teacher faces a terrible choice: integrity versus intellectual sell-out.

Written by Dundalk man Aidan Harney, 'Submarine Man' will premiere at the Drogheda Arts Festival on April 29, where it will run for three nights.

The production will then tour Dundalk, Ennis, Navan and Ballymun.
Sounds interesting, though probably not Broadway material.

April 7, 1942

The Navy accepts African Americans for general service, with the following announcement:
Navy Department Press Release: Navy to Accept Negroes for General Service
For release following Secretary of the Navy's press conference, Tuesday, April 7, 1942

The Navy Department today announced that Negro volunteers will be accepted for enlistment for general service in the reserve components of the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

All ratings in those three branches of the Naval Service will be opened to them, and recruiting is to be begun as soon as a suitable training station is established. A public announcement will be made when actual recruiting gets under way.

In making this announcement officials stated that the same physical and mental entrance standards required of all Navy personnel is to be required of Negroes.

It was added when Negro sailors are to be utilized for duty in District craft of various kind, in maritime activities around shore establishments, in Navy Yards, and in the Navy's new construction crews and companies which will be employed in developing bases outside the United States' continental limits.

Recruiting of Negroes for service in the Messman Branch is to continue without change or interruption.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Battleship Missouri in History

Off Istanbul, Turkey, 5-9 April 1946. She had brought the body of the Late Turkish Ambassador to the United States, Mehmet Munir Ertegun, home for burial, on a mission that was also made to influence Soviet Middle East policy. Power (DD-839) is at left, and the Turkish Battlecruiser Yavuz (formerly the German (Goeben) is at right. Dolmabahce Mosque is in the foreground.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual Assault vs. Rape

Sexual assault is a broader category that the Justice Department uses to classify rape, attempted rape, and other violent felonies that fall short of rape. Rape is defined as forced vaginal, oral, or anal penetration.

First some stats on this horrible set of crimes:
1 out of every 6 American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).

17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.

9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.

While about 80% of all victims are white, minorities are somewhat more likely to be attacked.

Lifetime rate of rape /attempted rape for women by race:
All women: 17.6%
White women: 17.7%
Black women: 18.8%
Asian Pacific Islander women: 6.8%
American Indian/Alaskan women: 34.1%
Mixed race women: 24.4%

About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

In 2003, 1 in every ten rape victims were male.
2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.
15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.

29% are age 12-17.
44% are under age 18.
80% are under age 30.
12-34 are the highest risk years.
Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.

3% of boys grades 5-8 and 5% of boys in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.
In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.

Of these, 75% were girls.
Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7.
93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.

34.2% of attackers were family members.
58.7% were acquaintances.
Only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim.

Effects of Rape
Victims of sexual assault are:
3 times more likely to suffer from depression.

6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.

26 times more likely to abuse drugs.

4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

How often does sexual assault occur?
In 2006, there were 272,350 victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. (These figures do not include victims 12 years old or younger.)

Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
Here's the math. According to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey — the country's largest and most reliable crime study — there were 272,350 sexual assaults in 2006 (the most recent data available).

There are 525,600 minutes in a non-leap year. That makes 31,536,000 seconds/year. So, 31,536,00 divided by 272,350 comes out to 1 sexual assault every 116 seconds, or about 1 every 2 minutes.

Reporting Rates
Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, with 60% still being left unreported.

Males are the least likely to report a sexual assault, though they make up about 10% of all victims.

What happens to Rapists When They are Caught and Prosecuted?
60% of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Those rapists, of course, never spend a day in prison according to a statistical average of the past 5 years. Factoring in unreported rapes, only about 6% of rapists ever serve a day in jail.

Almost 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.
73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
28% are an intimate.
7% are a relative.

He's not Hiding in the Bushes
More than 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occured within 1 mile of their home or at their home.

4 in 10 take place at the victim's home.
2 in 10 take place at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative.
1 in 12 take place in a parking garage.

43% of rapes occur between 6:00pm and midnight.

24% occur between midnight and 6:00am.
The other 33% take place between 6:00am and 6:00pm.
The Criminal
The average age of a rapist is 31 years old.
52% are white.
22% of imprisoned rapists report that they are married.
Juveniles accounted for 16% of forcible rape arrestees in 1995 and 17% of those arrested for other sex offenses.
In 1 in 3 sexual assaults, the perpetrator was intoxicated — 30% with alcohol, 4% with drugs.
In 2001, 11% of rapes involved the use of a weapon — 3% used a gun, 6% used a knife, and 2 % used another form of weapon.
84% of victims reported the use of physical force only.
Rapists are more likely to be a serial criminal than a serial rapist.
46% of rapists who were released from prison were re-arrested within 3 years of their release for another crime.

18.6% for a violent offense.
14.8% for a property offense.
11.2% for a drug offense.
20.5% for a public-order offense.

Those are some scary statistics folks. Here is an interesting publication on sexuall assault in the military. Here are the FY 2007 Sexual assault stats for the military:
- Total sexual assaults reported: 2688 of those:
- 2085 unrestricted reports of sexual assault
- 72% were service members, the rest were DoD civilians or service member dependents
- the remaining 705 reports of sexual assault were made as restricted reports. 102 of those service members opting for a restricted report, later changed their report to unrestricted and participated in the criminal investigation.
- On the investigative side of the house: there were 1,955 investigations in FY 2007 (some were still open from previous years). Of those, 28% will be reported on in the 2008 report (still open cases). Of the completed ones:
- 1172 were referred for CO action
- action was taken on 600 of those cases including 181 Courts martial. 572 cases are awaiting disposition by the CO.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Dolphins in the Desert Update

Dolphins in the Desert, as I affectionately refer to submarine sailors assigned to the individual augment program, made the front page of the local Groton newspaper (the Day). Seems the brethren are doing well at representing us over there, in this duty that is indeed very strange and different from their core training:

Here is the article:
ONE SAILOR HAS A SHOTGUN LOADED with rubber pellets slung over his shoulder. The other carries a baton. They travel a dusty sand path between tall fences covered in coils of concertina wire, looking for signs of trouble.

The detainees on “Navy Row” are secured inside their dwellings. Each 10-person unit is made of two shipping containers welded together and air-conditioned. Metal is the building material of choice — it can't be set afire.

Inside each unit are two toilets and a sink. Grates cover the windows. The empty sand courtyards used for recreation separate the rows.

At Camp Bucca, this is where the worst offenders live — extremist leaders capable of rallying the more moderate. And this is where the majority of the 550 U.S. Navy officers and sailors at the detainee facility work.

They are serving as “individual augmentees,” aiding the Army and Marines by temporarily leaving their regular roles on ships or in shore commands to serve on the ground in Iraq.

The number of suspected insurgents in U.S. custody has rapidly increased because the ongoing troop surge is resulting in more captures. Camp Bucca, a plot one mile wide by two miles long, now holds 20,000 detainees. Five thousand service members guard them.

The U.S. military is trying to prevent detention camps like this one from becoming recruiting centers for insurgents.

“We absolutely cannot allow this to become a jihadist university,” said Navy Capt. Bruce A. Derenski, commander of the area at Camp Bucca where the U.S. service members live. “At some point, we go home and they go home. We would be releasing that plague on Iraq, and there is no way in good conscience we can do that.”

Last September, military officials intensified efforts to identify members of radical militant groups and separate them from the general population, said Derenski, who previously commanded the New Hampshire, a Virginia-class submarine under construction at Electric Boat in Groton.

The extremists live in a restrictive environment, while the more moderate live in tents and wooden buildings and are allowed to move freely within their fenced-in compounds.

The strategy at Camp Bucca is to rehabilitate detainees through education and vocational programs so they will be employable when they are released.

The military measures the success of its educational programs by the number of people who don't offend again. Six thousand have been released to date, with fewer than 100 recaptured.

Those who work at the Navy compound, known as the “waterfront,” say their goal is to control their group of detainees so the strategy can work on the rest of the population.

“These people, I don't think they'll change anytime soon,” said Seaman Jordan Westall, who was just finishing his shift Thursday afternoon. “They don't care. They tell us that September 11 was the best day in American history, and that Osama bin Laden is great.”

Westall, who was previously assigned to the Groton-based USS Toledo, and other Navy guards patrol the paths on foot and keep watch from above in guard towers. They move the detainees around by unlocking and locking a series of doors in the fences when it's time for showers, recreation or a trip to the visitation center to see relatives.

On Thursday afternoon, the detainees walked in groups of two or three around the courtyard or sat in the shade cast by a guard tower reading and talking, all under the careful watch of the sailors.

Machinists Mate First Class Sean McCarthy compares guard duty to “baby-sitting dangerous children.”

“You've got to feed them, send them to the bathroom, watch them, make sure they don't run off, take them to the hospital,” he said. “Most are well-behaved. But a few of them are going to fight the system as much as they can.”

The Day has two journalist, Jennifer Grogan (staff writer) and Tim Cooke (photographer)embedded in Iraq with sailors from New London SUBASE.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

To the State of Florida: There Is No Need to Apologize for Slavery

Ref: Tampa Bay News

Admitting the nation's mistakes is an honorable deed, true. However, at this point apologizing would just create more problems than it would heal. As much as I think Jesse Jackson abuses the racial issue to remain in the limelight, to maintain his fame, and because the end of racial issues in this country would mean he was out of a job, when President Clinton was asked to apologize for slavery in 1997, Jesse called such an apology "a meaningless gesture with no meaningful commitment to deal with the impact of something as serious as slavery."

USA Today recently wrote an article with the following observations in it:
"The success of the Obama candidacy underscores the irrelevance of an apology" because it shows "enormous progress" in race relations, says Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative group that describes itself as opposed to racial preferences. "Haven't we already moved beyond it?" ....

"A mere apology doesn't do anything for me," says state Rep. Talibdin El-Amin, a Democrat who is lobbying for such a resolution in Missouri.

Furthermore, a Nightline poll of the American people in 1997 found 56% of the people against it (not that popularism is all it is cracked up to be).

There can be no doubt that slavery was wrong, but some things you can't apologize for - you have to show your sincere regret through your actions. With the recent elevation of such notables as Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, and others to national recognition, positions of both power and trust, and recognized their capable performance in those duties, with Obama's success at making a campaign without the race issue rearing its ugly head (except in the specific case of Reverend Wright's divisive remarks and Bill Clinton's heinous remarks about Obama's wins in the South), we as a nation have shown ourselves elevated above our history. There is no need to apologize, our actions speak for themselves.

An apology, words, cannot make up for this:

Only the actions of the nation at large can. The USA has done so, we have elevated ourselves above our history, again.

Racial incidents in this country have become anecdotal. The continuous discussion of the topic, the occasional anecdotal evidence (there will always be some ignorant dumb@$$ out there, no matter how enlightened society becomes), and the few who make their fortunes and fame on the subject are the only reason there is still a debate in this country. IF we let it die, it will go away - two toddlers who meet will play innocently and cutely no matter if their skin is black, white, red, yellow, or green. It doesn't even occur to them to care.

Slavery is our history, not our legacy. Our legacy, rather, is the spirit of freedom that allowed us to rise above our history.